Oil bosses today revealed radical new plans to lift an extra one billion barrels of oil from the North Sea — using WASHING POWDER.
Traditional methods of using water to force oil from the wells underground can leave as much as 65% behind.
But it is believed that chemicals – including detergents found in washing powder, washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets – can flush an extra 20% of oil from the UK’s ageing fields.
Of the six billion barrels of oil marked out for removal with other new extracting techniques, 1.2 billion could be squeezed out with the everyday chemicals.
The findings were revealed at a meeting in Aberdeen on Tuesday between chiefs from nine leading offshore companies and a delegation from France.
David Sorin from The Chemical EOR Alliance met with representatives from BP, Talisman Sinopec, EnQuest, Taqa, Shell, Total, Chevron, Xcite Energy and Statoil to explain how the extra production and new chemical plants would also create thousands of jobs.
David said: “There is a lot of interest. The Department for Energy and Climate Change has shared with us data from a number of fields in the UK which would be good candidates for the technology.
“Based on the early analysis we have done, there are some good prospects.”
BP North Sea boss Trevor Garlick added: “Maximising oil recovery needs to be critical on our agendas.
“We need greater emphasis on reservoir recovery. I would love us to create a bit more urgency and a bit more pace around EOR in the North Sea.”
Chemical injections have actually been around since the 1980s, but it has always been deemed unsuitable for the temperatures and pressures found beneath the North Sea.
But the Chemical EOR Alliance believe they have found the right combination of chemicals to use the method in our seas.
The technique involves using polymer chemicals to turn water into gel by making it thicker and stickier.
Surfactants – which are used in washing powder – would then be added to help flush more of the remaining oil from beneath rocks under the North Sea.
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